The new level has now fallen from “very high” to “high”, announced Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) on Tuesday in Berlin. It had been upgraded on December 11th.
Spahn said the downgrade was possible given the falling infection rates and the easing of pressure in intensive care units in Germany.
“The situation is getting significantly better,” Spahn said, “but we are still in the middle of this pandemic.”
He said the new assessment is “a signal” that the very difficult situation posed by the second and then the third coronavirus wave has broken. But there is still a high risk, he said.
If people were not careful, the situation could change very quickly and deteriorate yet again, he added.
The current 7-day incidence stands at 35.2, up from 35.1 on Monday. However, the numbers are significantly down from a week ago, when the incidence stood at 58.4.
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The downgrade does not have a direct impact on current coronavirus measures. “There is no legal basis for the RKI assessment to have a direct consequence,” Spahn said.
Still, Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday said it was “very likely” that the countrywide emergency brake measures would be discontinued at the end of June, as more public life continues to open up.”
RKI head Lothar Wieler explained that the agency coordinates with various countries around the world when it comes to classifications. A lower risk means that other countries could revise their travel warnings for Germany, for example.
Wieler said the possibility of people in Germany becoming infected has decreased, but it still exists, he said.
Germany could also be upgraded again in the risk assessment “purely theoretically” if the situation worsens again.
Summer cases to decline
Also on Tuesday, Wieler cautioned that many millions of people in Germany have not yet been vaccinated – about 43 percent have so far gotten a first jab – so only cautious opening steps are possible.
Based on modelling, he said, the RKI assumes that cases will plateau or drop over the summer, and that the burden in intensive care units will become lower and lower over the next eight weeks.
It is a great success that the third wave has been broken, Wieler said. “Now we have to use this success to further reduce the infection numbers. Let’s use the summer to do that.”
In order to do away with the bulk of the measures, “more than 80 percent” of people in the country would need to have immune protection through full vaccination, or recovery from an infection, the RKI president reiterated.